Book Review: On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise

Author: Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series
Price:  $21.99 in Canada, $18.99 in the U.S.

Anyone who’s followed Star Trek: The Next Generation for any period of time will surely be familiar with the names Michael and Denise Okuda.

He was the show’s lead graphic designer and she served in several consulting roles with TNG and other Trek incarnations. The couple have come out with a book called On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise which is a perfect introduction to the fabled NCC-1701D helmed by Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

It’s an oversized coffee-table book that is colourfully illustrated with photos from the show and computer-generated images to explain the workings of the Enterprise.

The book starts out with a brief history of the vessel, highlights of some memorable voyages, introductions to the main characters and a section-by-section breakdown of the ship. It covers:

  • The bridge
  • Engineering
  • Tactical systems
  • Transporter room
  • Shuttlecraft
  • Sickbay
  • Science labs
  • Living quarters
  • Ten Forward
  • Holodeck
  • Cargo bay
  • Ship’s services

There is also a variety of illustrations showing views of the ship from different angles, including some multi-page foldouts.

The book also comes with a DVD that contains three-dimensional views of all of the ship sections listed above which you can explore with your mouse. My only gripe is that there isn’t more explanatory text in these images. You can click around all you want, but you’re not always sure what you’re looking at.

So who is this book for and why now? In the introduction, the Okudas mention they are working on a project to remaster the Next Generation episodes so I would guess this book is meant to tie into that and serve as a reference to new fans.

The content is very top-level so long-time fans won’t find much new in this book. It appears to be geared at younger fans who are just getting in to the show. I’ve always felt that Star Trek has done a poor job of cultivating a new generation of fans compared to Star Wars. George Lucas’ creation has always had toys and cartoons aimed at younger audiences while Star Trek rarely did. This book would certainly be the sort of thing you would use to try to convert your own kids to Trek fandom.

Sadly, neither of my kids want anything to do with Star Trek. If Dad likes it, then it can’t be cool. Maybe I’ll sneak in a copy of On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise on to their bookshelves and keep my fingers crossed.

A review copy of the book was provided to us by Barron’s.